US 7634665 B2
An apparatus and method for enabling functionality of a component, wherein the apparatus includes a random number generating module for generating a random number, and a hash function module in communication with the random number generating module. A host is provided in communication with the random number generating module, and at least one memory in communication with the host is included. An encryption module in communication with the at least one memory is provided, and a comparing device in communication with the encryption module and the hash function module is included. The comparing device of the apparatus compares a first bit string to a second bit string to generate a function enable output for the component.
1. An apparatus for enabling functionality of a component, said apparatus comprising:
a random number generating module configured to generate a random number;
a hash function module in communication with said random number generating module;
a host in communication with said random number generating module, said host being configured to receive a guess passcode from a manufacturer of the component;
at least one memory in communication with said host;
an encryption module in communication with said at least one memory; and
a comparing device in communication with said encryption module and said hash function module,
wherein said at least one memory further comprises a public key module in communication with said encryption module, said public key module being configured to store a public key therein,
wherein said comparing device is configured to compare a ciphertext bit string generated by the encryption module to a hash value generated by the hash function module to generate a function enable output to the component, which enables functionality of the component.
2. The apparatus for enabling functionality of a component as recited in
3. The apparatus for enabling functionality of a component as recited in
4. The apparatus for enabling functionality of a component as recited in
a NAND gate in communication with said linear feedback shift register; and
at least one inverter in communication with said linear feedback shift register and said NAND gate,
wherein said NAND gate is configured to receive an activation pulse.
5. The apparatus for enabling functionality of a component as recited in
6. The apparatus for enabling functionality of a component as recited in
7. The apparatus for enabling functionality of a component as recited in
a pull up resistor in communication with said OR gate and a power supply; and
a switch in communication with a ground potential and said OR gate.
8. The apparatus for enabling functionality of a component as recited in
a multiplexer having at least one multiplexer input in communication with the comparing device and a multiplexer output;
a selection circuit in communication with the at least one multiplexer input;
a bonding option circuit in communication with the at least one multiplexer input,
wherein said multiplexer is configured to receive a selection input from the selection circuit that is used to determine whether to enable functionality of said component in accordance with the bonding option output or the function enable output.
9. The apparatus for enabling functionality of a component as recited in
at least one first non-volatile memory location having at least one first selection bit stored therein;
at least one second non-volatile memory location having at least one second selection bit stored therein; and
an OR gate having a first input, a second inverted input, and a logic output, said first input being in communication with said at least one first nonvolatile memory location and said second inverted input being in communication with said at least one second non-volatile memory location,
wherein said selection circuit is configured to generate a selection indicator on the logic output of the OR gate in accordance with the at least one first selection bit and said at least one second selection bit.
10. The apparatus for enabling functionality of a component as recited in
11. The apparatus for enabling functionality of a component as recited in
This application is a Continuation of application Ser. No. 09/685,885, filed on Oct. 11, 2000, which claims priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/162,209 filed on Oct. 29, 1999, U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/162,157 filed on Oct. 29, 1999, and U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/193,378 filed on Mar. 21, 2000. The contents of these earlier filed applications are hereby incorporated by reference.
1. Field of the Invention
The invention relates to a method and apparatus for selectively and securely enabling additional functionality of an electronic component not expressly enabled at the manufacturing or design stages based upon cryptography principles.
2. Description of the Related Art
Cryptography is generally defined as the technology of encoding information so that the information itself, upon storage and/or transmission, can only be accessed by individuals authorized to utilize the information. Cryptography has wide ranging application in various fields and implementations. For example, cryptography can be used to encrypt a sensitive data file, such as a business plan, so that other parties, such as competitors, even if they gain access to the physical location of the data, cannot take advantage of the content of the data. Additionally, cryptography is regularly used to send and receive secure messages between users via e-mail, radio transmission, and satellite communications, along with many other data transmission links. In implementing these types of cryptographic systems, various “types” of cryptography are used. For example, private key cryptography is a type of cryptography where the sender and receiver both have the same key or similar keys, which are used to decode the encrypted message/data. Alternatively, public key cryptography is a form of cryptography in which each user has a public key and a private key, and therefore, messages are sent encrypted with the receiver's public key and the receiver decrypts the messages through use of the private key. Using the public key method, the private key is generally not revealed to anyone other than the intended users and/or recipients of the information. Another form of cryptography is symmetric key cryptography, which is often used in computer transmission related situations, wherein both ends have the same encryption key, which is used for encryption and decryption.
Furthermore, although general cryptography has been a practiced art for nearly 100 years, recent advances in computer related technologies have opened a whole new realm of applications for cryptography. For example, given current computer technology, cryptographic methods are often implemented in various software applications in order to enable and/or disable access to selected software and/or hardware functions. However, software driven cryptographic functions have an inherent degree of vulnerability as a result of their code driven nature.
One particular area where cryptographic methods have been recently used is in the computer hardware enablement field. Although previous implementations such as physical jumpers and secret registers are effective from a physical point of view, these methods are unsecured, and therefore, impractical for most computer applications, as they can easily be bypassed by a clever user. An example of the use of these types of methods is when manufacturers of electronic/computer components manufacture components having various ranges of capabilities and options, as evidenced by the different models of the product. However, in view of the cost associated with producing multiple variations/models of a product in order to create the range of capabilities desired by consumers, manufacturers often produce a single product capable of executing all of the desired functions of the entire product line. This product is then sold as the “top of the line” model. Then, in order to generate the “lower” models, the top of the line model is simply sold with one or more of the features disabled. Therefore, through this technique, manufacturers are generally able to manufacture a single product line having a single design and manufacturing cost, wherein the single product is capable of supporting numerous product models in a product line.
This process has a second advantage, as the manufacturer is then able to offer consumers the option of upgrading their product, without having to physically exchange the hardware for an upgraded model. Rather, the manufacturers can simply enable the desired functions of the hardware in order to upgrade the product. However, this advantage comes with an inherent disadvantage, as a consumer who knows that the product purchased includes disabled upgrades may attempt to enable the additional functionality of the product without the manufacturer's permission, which eliminates or at least reduces the possibility of the manufacturer obtaining compensation for the upgraded product. This situation has been attempted to be addressed through previous functionality enablement methods (jumpers and private registers), however, the vulnerability of these methods has been shown to be nearly ineffective against a reasonably sophisticated attacker.
Therefore, in view of the vulnerability of previous enablement methods in conjunction with the desired manufacturing methods for electronic/computer related products, it is an object of the present invention to implement a cryptographic method wherein the secure portions of the method, e.g. the relevant keys, are implemented in electronic/computer products. Secure, for purposes of cryptographic enablement, is generally defined as the point where the cost of obtaining unauthorized access to a component exceeds the cost associated with obtaining authorized access. More particularly, it is an object of the present invention to implement cryptographic functions for enabling functionality of electronic/computer related components, wherein the relevant secure key related information is contained within computer hardware in a non-volatile memory device and not within a purely software driven configuration. Further still, it is an object of the present invention to provide the ability to conduct secure functionality enablement on electronic/computer related components, wherein a public key for enabling the component is contained onboard and utilized in conjunction with a randomly generated component identifier in order to selectively enable additional functionality of the component.
The present invention provides an apparatus for enabling functionality of a component, wherein the apparatus includes a random number generating module for generating a random number, and a hash function module in communication with the random number generating module. A host is provided in communication with the random number generating module, and at least one memory in communication with the host is included. An encryption module in communication with the at least one memory is provided, and a comparing device in communication with the encryption module and the hash function module is included. The comparing device of the apparatus compares a first bit string to a second bit string to generate a function enable output for the component.
The present invention further provides a component for selectively enabling functionality of an electronic device, wherein the component includes a means for generating a random bit string, and a hash function module in communication with the means for generating a random bit string. A means for acquiring a guess passcode is provided and is in communication with the means for generating the random bit string. An encryption module is provided and is in communication with the means for acquiring. A comparing device is provided and is in communication with the encryption module and the hash function module, the comparing device having an output for transmitting a functionality enable signal therefrom.
The present invention further provides a method for enabling functionality of an electronic component, wherein the method includes the steps of generating a random number, calculating a first bit string from the random number, and determining a second bit string corresponding to the random number. The steps of encrypting the second bit string with a public key to generate a third bit string, comparing the third bit string to the first bit string to determine a match, and outputting a function enable signal in accordance with the comparison are also included.
The objects and features of the invention will be more readily understood with reference to the following description and the attached drawings, wherein:
The present invention is directed to an apparatus and method for enabling functionality of an electronic component, wherein the enablement process is configured to be secure from attack by an unauthorized party. For purposes of explanation, the present invention will be described with respect to a computer component. However, it is understood that the present description with regard to a computer component is for explanatory purposes only, and therefore, is in no way limiting upon the present invention, as use of the present invention with various general electronic components is expressly contemplated within the scope of the present invention.
As an example of the present invention, a manufacturer of computer components manufactures a component, such as a network switch, for example. The network switch may be a single integrated circuit, or a plurality of components connected together. This component could include the basic capabilities to conduct packet switching, but also could have the ability to execute optional functions such as filtering, metering, head of line blocking, stacking, trunking, and/or load balancing, for example. However, not all customers are interested in purchasing a network switch with each of the above noted functions, as some customers may desire to purchase a network switch having only the ability to conduct network switching and filtering without the additional features. For this customer, the manufacturer is faced with two distinct options: first, design and manufacture a separate component capable of only switching and filtering, and then market and sell this component to this type or group of customers desiring only these particular features; or second, selling this customer the previously designed and manufactured component capable of conducting all of the above noted features, but only enable the features desired by the particular customer. In this situation, it is nearly always more economical for the manufacturer to sell the customer the component with the capability to conduct all of the functions with certain functions disabled, as designing and manufacturing a separate component with only the desired functions includes additional design and manufacturing costs which can be avoided by simply using a previously designed and manufactured component that is capable of at least the desired functions.
Therefore, in view of this situation, manufacturers regularly design components with the ability to selectively enable/disable various functionalities of the components, so that a single component can be sold to a wide range of customers having different component needs. If a customer desires additional functionality, an upgrade can be offered from the manufacturer simply by enabling the “dormant” functionality of the component. However, this flexibility in manufacturing inherently creates opportunity for unauthorized parties to purchase a component with various features disabled at a lower cost, and thereafter, attempt to enable the full functionality of the component without authorization from the manufacturer. Further still, this flexibility offers an unauthorized party the potential to determine a “passcode” for an entire product line or a manufacturer, and thereafter, market and sell upgrades for that product line without the manufacturers permission, thereby eliminating the manufacturer from the upgrade process for a multitude of customers.
A first embodiment of the present invention, shown in
In operation, for example, non-volatile memory 16 of function enabler 15 may be preprogrammed at the factory with both a unique component identification number and a unique key. Therefore, for example, assuming that the component is a network switch, the network switch unique identification number may be a 32 bit identification number or serial number of the network switch. Furthermore, assuming that non-volatile memory 16 constitutes a 96 bit non-volatile register, then the unique key associated with the network switch could be a 64 bit field stored in the register, which is generally generated through a random number-type process. However, although a 96 bit non-volatile register having a 32 bit identification number and a 64 bit unique key therein are presented as the present example, various other register sizes, as well as key and identification lengths, are contemplated within the scope of the present invention. When the user of the network switch desires to enable additional functions of the network switch, the user first must contact the manufacturer, or other party having access/ability to determine an appropriate passcode, to obtain an appropriate key or password to enable the desired functions of the network switch. Although the manufacturer is discussed as the party transmitting the passcode to the component, the present invention contemplates that various other parties are easily substituted for the manufacturer. The function of contacting the manufacturer is generally accomplished through host 18, which determines the identification number associated with the component/network switch through communication with non-volatile memory 16 via interface 17. This identification number corresponding to the particular component is then sent to the manufacturer by host 18, for example, with an accompanying request for a password or key corresponding to the requested additional functionality of the network switch. Generally, the transmission of the request for a password or key also may include an agreement between the user and the manufacturer for the user to compensate the manufacturer for the additional functionality to be enabled in the network switch. This compensation arrangement may include a transaction that occurs before the functionality is enabled, or alternatively, a transaction that takes place at the time the password/key is transmitted to the customer. The manufacturer receives the request information and determines the appropriate manufacturers key for the particular component and sends this key back to host 18. This entire process of communicating with the manufacturer in order to obtain a key may be undertaken, for example, through an internet connection, a direct dial data connection, or through a voice telephone call, as well as other known communication techniques. Host 18, upon receiving the key from the manufacturer, then sends the manufacturers key to interface 17, which transmits the manufacturer's key to register 19. Register 19 communicates the manufacturers key to the first input 20 a of comparator 20. Additionally, non-volatile memory 16 transmits the unique key that was initially stored in non-volatile memory 16 during manufacture of the network switch to the second input 20 b of comparator 20. Comparator 20, or other suitable device for comparing numbers, then compares the manufacturers key received from the guess register 19 to the unique key stored in non-volatile memory 16 to determine if the respective keys match. If the keys match, comparator 20 sends an enable signal to multiplexer 21 through a first input 21 a to multiplexer 21. A second input 21 b of multiplexer 21 receives an input from selection circuit 22. Selection circuit 22 determines whether multiplexer 21 uses the input from comparator 20 or bonding option circuit 25. For example, if the non-volatile memory 16 is programmed, then the additional non-volatile bits 24 may be programmed to a logical “1” and “0” respectively such that the enable signal generated by comparator 20 is selected. Alternatively, for example, both additional non-volatile bits 24 may programmed to either logical “1” or “0” such that the enable signal is selected from the bonding option circuit 25. Therefore, the bonding option in conjunction with the selection circuit offers a manufacturer the flexibility to selectively enable functionality of the network switch subsequent to the design phase of manufacturing. Additionally, the present invention contemplates that in order to detect any errors that may have occurred in the process of enablement of a function, host 18 may be used to determine whether the process was success. In particular, host 18 may initiate a testing of the enabled functionality to determine if the enablement process was successful, or alternatively, the output of comparator 20 or multiplexer 21 may be observed by host 18 in order to determine if the function enable signal was properly generated.
This configuration may be implemented on a component and tied to multiple functions, or alternatively, tied to individual functions of the component. Therefore, a single enabler circuit may enable a single function or multiple functions, and conversely, multiple enabler circuits may be used to individually enable a plurality of functions. Therefore, function enabler 15 provides the flexibility for manufacturers to selectively enable a single function of a component through a secure key, or alternatively, multiple functions at a time. However, in order to effectively implement this configuration, the manufacturer is generally required to closely monitor the design and manufacturing phases of the respective components. More particularly, the manufacturer must generally record each unique manufacturers key programmed into non-volatile memory 16 on every component, so that when individual users contact the manufacturer for permission to enable additional functionality of components in the users system, then the manufacturer can readily provide the correct password or key to be transmitted to guess register 19. As an alternative to storing every key of every component at the manufacturer, it is also contemplated that the manufacturer may simply store an algorithm configured to generate the unique key stored in non-volatile memory 16 during the manufacturing stage. Therefore, in this situation, when the manufacturer receives a request from a host for a manufacturers key, the manufacturer can simply determine an appropriate algorithm to use from the identification number of the component, calculate the key using the appropriate algorithm, and transmit the key to the user for implementation. This configuration is desirable, as the memory space required to store each and every key implemented in the manufacturing phase can be substantial, and is avoided by the algorithm approach. In addition to monitoring the manufacturing process, the manufacturer must also carefully select the key length. If a sufficiently long key length is not selected, then an attacker may simply be able to try all possible key combinations in order to enable the functionality of the component. This type of attack is referred to as a brute force attack, and will be discussed herein. However, an overly long key is not desirable, as the computation time necessary to process an overly long key may render the system inefficient. Additionally, overly long keys increase the necessary on-chip overhead, and therefore, increase the manufacturing cost. Therefore, key length selection is important to effective operation of the present invention. In selecting an appropriate key length, manufacturers may consider the available processing power of computers and components, as well as anticipated computing power in the lifetime of the component, as an attacker will almost always employ a computer to launch a brute force attack.
In another embodiment of the present invention, as shown in
Although secret key encryption such as that which is illustrated in
A one-way hash function is designed to compute a hash value from pre-image inputs. However, the strength of a one-way hash function is that it is easy to compute a hash value from pre-image inputs, but extremely difficult to compute the pre-image inputs that will computationally hash to a particular hash value. Additionally, a one-way hash function is generally collision free, which indicates that it is difficult to generate different pre-image inputs that will hash to the same hash value. Further, a one-way hash function is generally public, and therefore, there is generally very little secrecy to the process. As such, the security of a one-way hash function lies within the “one-way” function characteristics of the hash function and not the availability of the hash function. More particularly, the output of a one-way hash function not dependent upon the input in any discernable way, and therefore, if a single bit in the pre-image changes, then, on average, half of the hash value bits are expected to change. Therefore, even if an attacker is given a hash value, it is computationally unlikely that the attacker will be able to determine the pre-image inputs to a one-way hash function that generate the hash value within a reasonable time period.
However, in the present exemplary embodiment, hash function module 29 is an optional feature of the invention, as this module can be removed from the embodiment without substantially degrading the operational characteristics of the invention. Nonetheless, hash function module 29 is implemented in the present exemplary embodiment in order to increase the functional security of the system, as well as allowing the option of reducing the sheer size of the pre-image input. This is a practical decision, however, as pre-image inputs are often lengthy, and therefore, it is often desirable to reduce the bit size of the inputs for encryption. Although a 128 bit field, for example, is generally not unusually long for many encryption applications, it may be computationally burdensome for smaller/less powerful applications, and therefore, hash function module 29 may be utilized to reduce the length of the bit stream in order to save computation time and resources. Further, with regard to the increased functional security of the system, the use of the hash function within the embodiment of
Generally, an example of the chosen cipher text attack is when an attacker of the component sends dummy cipher text to the manufacturer under the guise of a genuine customer attempting to upgrade a component. The manufacturer, assuming that it is not discovered that the attacker is posing as a genuine customer, decrypts the cipher text and returns the corresponding clear text. Although the returned clear text does not readily reveal the decryption key, attackers may select the dummy cipher text cleverly so that the returned clear text reveals substantial information about the undiscovered key, which may lead the attacker ultimately to discover the key through alternative computational means. However, through the implementation of the one way hash function into the present invention the chosen cipher text attack becomes difficult to successfully accomplish, as the attacker must also determine the input to the hash function that generates the cipher text, which is an inherently difficult task in and of itself.
Returning to the exemplary embodiment shown in
An example of the operation of secret key function enabler is illustrated by the MAC mentioned above. In particular, a MAC is generally programmed with a unique identification number, which is often the address of the MAC itself. Therefore, the unique identification number stored in memory 28 of the present embodiment can be, for example, a 48 bit MAC address. This 48 bit address may be transmitted as pre-image information to a one-way hash function module 29, for example. The unique identification number is processed by a one-way hash function to generate a hash value of a predetermined length at the output of hash function module 29. This output is then combined with an additional pre-image information in the form of a secret key received from secret key module 30, and received as an input to symmetric cipher encryption module 31. The secret key, which is generally programmed into the component or MAC at the factory and generally hardcoated, can be, for example, 64 bits long, or another length as required by the user. These inputs are processed by symmetric cipher encryption module 31 and encrypted to generate cipher text at the output of the symmetric cipher encryption module 31. This cipher text can be transmitted to a second input of comparator 20 for comparison with a “guess passcode” supplied to guess register 19 by the user. The process of supplying the guess passcode to guess register 19 generally involves the user contacting the manufacturer or other party having control over passcodes, often through host 18, to obtain a valid passcode to enter into guess register 19. As noted above with respect to the previously discussed embodiment, this process of contacting the manufacturer may be undertaken via the internet, direct dial communications link, or other communications methods. If the guess passcode matches the cipher text supplied to comparator 20, then an enable signal is generated at the output of comparator 20. This enable signal is transmitted to an input of OR gate 23, where a logical “or” operation is conducted with the output of symmetric cipher encryption module 31 and bonding option circuit 25. Therefore, if either of symmetric cipher encryption module 31 or bonding option circuit 25 yield an enable signal, then the corresponding functionality of the MAC is enabled, as a logical “1”, which may correspond to an enable signal, will be generated at the output of the OR gate 23.
Since a symmetric cipher encryption process is reversible by definition, an embodiment representing the reverse encryption process is shown in
Returning to the exemplary embodiment shown in
In another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, shown in
Aside from the lack of the identification number being stored on board the component, the embodiment of
In operation, random id based enabler 41 first receives a run signal at the input to the random sequence generator 36, which operates to initiate the generation of the desired random identification number. Once this random number is generated, it is transmitted to both hash function module 29 and host 18. Hash function module 29, which is once again shown as a one way hash function for exemplary purposes, receives the random number as pre-image input and generates a hash value at the output of hash function module 29. This hash value is communicated to a second input 20 b of comparator 20. Additionally, host 18, upon receiving the random number from to random sequence generator 36, contacts the manufacturer to obtain a guess passcode corresponding to the random number generated by random sequence generator 36. The manufacturer, having the private key corresponding to the public key of random id based enabler 41, generates a guess passcode corresponding to the public key of random id based enabler 41 from the private key and an encryption/decryption algorithm. The guess passcode generated by the manufacturer is then transmitted to host 18. Upon receiving the guess passcode from the manufacturer corresponding to the to random number generated by the random sequence generator 36, host 18 transmits the guess passcode to guess register 19. Guess register 19 transmits the guess passcode to public key encryption module 35 as clear text, where the guess passcode is then encrypted with the public key stored in public key module 34 to generate cipher text at the output of public key encryption module 35. This cipher text, which, if the key obtained from host 18 is authentic, is calculated to match the hash value output from hash function module 29, is then transmitted to the first input 20 a of comparator 20. Comparator 20 compares the calculated cipher text to the hash value generated by hash function module 29. If the cipher text matches the hash value, an enable signal is transmitted from the output of comparator 20 to an input of OR gate 23. Another input of OR gate 23 is again connected to a bonding option circuit 25 to generate a manual override of random id based enabler 41 if required. Upon processing the inputs from comparator 20 and bonding option circuit 25, assuming that at least one of these inputs is a logical high signal, OR gate 23 outputs an enable functionality signal that is used to initialize enablement of the corresponding functionality.
Upon consideration of the random id based enabler 41 of the embodiment of
Although the present invention has been described based upon the above noted embodiments, it would be apparent to those of skilled in the art that certain modifications, variations, and/or alternative constructions or configurations would be available, while remaining within the spirit and scope of the invention. In particular, although specific components and algorithms are mentioned above with regard to the exemplary embodiments, it is contemplated within the scope of the present invention that the function enabler of the present invention may be applicable to various electronic components in various configurations. Further, various cryptographic algorithms may be used in the present invention without departing from the true scope of the present invention. Therefore, in order to determine the true scope of the present invention, reference should be made to the following claims.